BY MARILYN VOS SAVANT


When Roald Amundsen planted the flag of Norway at the South Pole on Dec. 14, 1911, was his body weight substantially greater than that which it would have registered when he crossed the Equator?


My argument is that when Amundsen stood at the Equator, the centrifugal force exerted by the rotational speed of the earth’s surface would have reduced his weight from that taken at the Pole, where centrifugal force is zero.


If this is true, what would be the difference between the two readings? —Kenneth S. Christensen, Slidell, La.


I know this will surprise a lot of people, but, yes, he weighed more at the South Pole than he did at the Equator. To a scientist, the difference is significant ------ about one part in 300. However, if Amundsen weighted 150 pounds at the Equator, that means he still would only weigh 150½ pounds at the Pole, probably not even enough to induce him to give up dessert. (Very interesting)


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